HUDSON—Demonstrators rallied for housing justice in Hudson August 6, pausing in front of the offices of state Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-106th) and Congressman Antonio Delgado (D-19th) on Warren Street. At that point Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson (D) and Alderman Calvin Lewis, Jr. (D 3rd Ward), along with others, spoke.
Young people from Kite’s Nest’s Social Justice Leadership Academy led the march. Kite’s Nest is a center for “liberatory education,” according to its website, and runs several educational activities. It timed the event to coincide with the expiration of the the federal pandemic eviction moratorium. Neither Ms. Barrett nor Mr. Delgado was present.
The goals of rally organizers included:
1. Extend the eviction moratorium
2. House the homeless
3. Cancel rent due for the remainder of the Covid-19 pandemic.
4. Regulate short term rentals like the ones offered by Airbnb.
The event started in Promenade Park, where a woman chanted slogans, while several people in yellow shirts beat sticks on inverted plastic buckets. Signs people carried included:
WE CAN’T PAY/ DON’T SEND US AWAY
PEOPLE OVER PROFITS
STOP HOARDING HOUSING
APARTMENTS NOT AIRBNB
I WANT NEIGHBORS, NOT STRANGERS
as well as standards such as “No Justice, No Peace.”
The rally took off up Columbia Street chanting, “Whose street? Our street!”
After pausing at the old Shiloh Baptist Church, where Reverend Edward Cross addressed them, they swung back to Warren Street chanting, Housing Is A Human Right!”
The next stop was in front of 420 Warren Street, where Ms. Barrett and Mr. Delgado have offices. There, through a bullhorn, a voice called, “Fire! Fire! Catch the Fire!”
“Brown People Used To Live Here!” responded the crowd.
“Fire! Fire! Catch the Fire!”
“Black People Used To Live Here!”
After more back and forth of this chant, a series of speakers addressed the crowd from the steps of the building.
Salma Ibrahim, a senior youth fellow for Kite’s Nest, said, “It’s great to see so many people…” She spoke of people “kicked out of homes when they’ve lived here 20-30 years,” and their forebears, who “helped make Hudson beautiful….. We are all human beings…..They can take away our home, but they can’t take away our power!”
Ms. Ibrahim touched on other topics as well: “In order for Black lives to matter, we have to be anti-capitalist,” she said. “Capitalism is just neo-colonialism…. This isn’t our land; the land… belongs to mother nature.… I am enraged!”
One speaker said, “I want to feel secure in Hudson without the fear of being kicked out of the city where my family has lived for generations.”
Mayor Johnson said, “People want housing, people want change, people want community. I’m not one of those politicians who hides in their office. You won’t have to stand outside my office like this, I’ll always be here with you. Instead of gentrification, we need housing for everybody. Hotels weren’t built for families. We can’t have people living in hotels. Housing is a right, a human right.”
He mentioned some housing-related projects the city government and Common Council are working on, such as short term rentals.
A young woman named Gabrielle spoke about her experience in Hudson living with many people in small apartments. Once she was called out of school class because of a family housing emergency. Once her landlord announced he was selling the place and gave only a month notice. “Rent in Hudson is outrageously priced, and not everybody can afford it.”
Alderman Lewis said he was involved in several housing-related projects and is on the Housing Council. “It’s more cost effective to help people stay in their homes than to put them in a hotel….
I work with people day-to-day to help them see housing opportunities. I work for more affordable housing options.”
In a conversation on the sidelines, Reverend Cross recalled that he once lived near that spot in an apartment with two rooms and a bath for $100 a month, 25 years ago.